Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

On this wonderful season, may we all be surrounded with love and joy from our loved ones.
Have a lovely Christmas and a great New Year ahead!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Felix and Christmas Balls

Hi! I'm Felix and this is my Christmas ball *purrs*

Felix is more of an outdoor cat than an indoor one. After the initial shock of experiencing snow last Thursday, he's back to spending a lot of time outdoors. But with the winter weather, we have to make him stay indoors most of the time. And to amuse himself (and maybe to annoy us for keeping him inside), he plays with the Christmas balls of our tree, especially during his most active hours (around dawn and from dusk until midnight).

Felix: Christmas balls, you can't hide from me :) *cluck*cluck*

He is so fascinated with the balls that he became an expert in knocking them off a day after we put up the tree. Once on the floor, he would kick the balls around until they get “lost” under a furniture and he couldn’t reach them. Then, he would come back for another ball to play with. He would even stand on his hind legs to reach for those on the upper part of the tree.

Felix: Dad, help! Mom is trying to trick me with these balls!!!

Felix: This ball is what I want to play with! *meows*

I tried to “trick” him from doing this by giving him the Christmas balls I didn't use. And I added a garland to make it more enticing for him (of course, I intend to keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t accidentally swallow some pieces of the garland or get his claws tangled in them). But he wasn’t fooled. He just pushed them around timidly and went back to the “real” ones hanging on the tree.

Felix: Mom, I can't help it! I'm hypnotized... *purrs*

It can be exasperating to look for the balls everyday and put them back where they belong but it is also amusing to see Felix knock them off with a great deal of dexterity and run after them. He's really like a toddler on his first Christmas.

Felix: I have to hide my "loot" *purrs*

Oh well, I guess I just have to accept having a “naked” Christmas tree this year (at least the lower part of it). At least, Felix’s having a lot of fun with these "new toys". And after all, Christmas is one of the most wonderful time of the year for kids and Felix is like a tot in more ways than one *winks*.

Felix: Uh-oh, I'm not in trouble, am I? *meows*

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blooming Friday: Snow-covered Stonecrops

Hylotelephium spectabile (formerly known as Sedum spectabile) or showy stonecrops under the snow

Since yesterday we’ve been having a considerable amount of snow. Well, it would be officially winter time in three days, so I guess this is the welcome salvo of the cold season. And these are our Sedum spectabile (now classified as Hylotelephium spectabile) or showy stonecrop covered in snow.

They look like frozen deserts to me. I’m deliberating between cone-shaped ice pops (because of the dried stem) and snow cones. Or maybe I should just describe them as “snow popsicones”. And if I combine the term with it’s common name, we can call it “snowy showy stonecropsicones.” *winks*

In any case, I think they’re quite as interesting now as they were when they have their magnificent pink inflorescence in autumn. They’re hardy perennials but I just hope their roots won’t rot under the steady snow which we will probable have for some time. It would be a real shame if they die. They’re one of my preferred plants, not only because of the their autumn charm, but also they’re easy to care for.

Well, this is the last weekend before Christmas, so I wish everybody a nice time wrapping gifts and preparing for the holidays. Advance happy holidays!

see my other blooming fridays
see other blooming friday participants

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Silver White Winter

snow on our conifers

We had our first snow this winter today. As I suspected, our winter is a lot colder than usual : according to meteorologists, the temperature we’re having is way below the average for this season. We had a quite a warm, sunny and relatively long summer, so I assumed that winter will be really biting. The maximum temperature is around 0°C for several days now and is expected to continue that way for sometime.

Felix's "pawtrail" in the snow

Well, it might not be that cold compared to other areas, but the sudden drop from around 10°C (last Friday) to 0°C (last Saturday) can be quite a shock to one’s system, especially for someone who prefers warmer weather like me.

However cold winter might be, snow makes it less gloomy. In fact, it gives winter a romantic appeal, like what you see in Christmas cards or movies, with snowflakes falling and ponds and lakes turned into a natural skating rink. It would have been better if the sky is clear and with some sun. Well, one can’t have everything. Besides, I'd rather have snow than the depressing November rain.

Felix paw prints on our porch

But Felix (our cat) doesn’t seem to like winter that much, too. Usually, he spends a lot of time outdoors, except when it’s raining. However, I think today’s snow and below zero degree temperature was also a drastic change for him. When he had to make his rounds, he was only out for about 30 minutes at the most, then would come back to sleep on our sofa or bed.

And so that I can have photos of him for his first winter and first snow (for posterity's sake), I have to time it when he makes his tours. But he wasn’t that cooperative since all he wants to do is to make the trip and go back to the relative warmth of our house. But maybe he’ll get used to it in the coming days. As for now, he finds it more fun to play with Christmas balls and garlands by knocking them off our tree.

I think Felix is thinking "brrrr... I'd like to get this trip over with and go back inside"

Well, I just hope this winter wouldn’t be a long one. Having snow is great. But the cold weather and having to put layers of clothes before going out is another story. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind the temperature that much if there would be some sun to make the snow glisten like fine crystal powders *smiles*.

a warm fire on a snowy winter day

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blooming Friday: Last Bloom

Rudbecka hirta (also known as Black-eyed Susan) on a cold December day

Late blooming Tagetes erecta (Mexican Marigold) in our garden

According to the weather forecast, we’re going to have below zero degree Celsius temperature this weekend and the days after that. So I guess these will be our last blooms for this year before frost sets in.

Well, I hope winter won’t be too cold this year. We had a relatively clement spring and autumn and an almost rain-free, very sunny summer, so I’m thinking winter would be bone-chilling and really icy.

On the other hand, in my experience, frosty morning usually means clear skies and some sun by mid-morning until mid-afternoon. I actually prefer this kind of weather to the rainy, bleak, days of late autumn.

And maybe we’ll have some snow for Christmas! This will be Felix’s (our cat) first winter and I hope he would enjoy the snow. White Christmas and Felix running after snow flakes could make the holidays seasons a lot brighter *smiles*.

see my other blooming fridays
see other blooming friday participants

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Refuge

a shelter for herdsmen and hikers in Cirque de Troumouse, Pyrenéan National Park

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself
and know that everything in this life has a purpose.
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926 - 2004)

see my other wordless wednesdays
see other wordless wednesday participants

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blooming Friday: Chrysanthemums

chrysanthemums in our garden

It’s quite sunny today, unlike the previous days which were rather windy and rainy. So I took the opportunity to take some photos of our chrysanthemums which have been blooming for about three weeks now.

On a cold sunny December day, seeing them can make you stay outside for a little bit more while trying to get warm under the sun.

With orange flowers on green foliage, I think they are not that far from red and green, the “official” Christmas colors. But whether they have the “official” colors or not, I find them as lovely and festive as plants with red flowers or berries. In fact, I believe I’m quite lucky to have them when it’s almost winter time.

I just hope they last until Christmas. Maybe that would be too much to hope for. But I’m crossing my fingers *smiles*.

see my other blooming fridays
see other blooming friday participants

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Isle of Calypso

a rock formation with salt pans in the foreground in Gozo, Malta

One of the beautiful limestone rock formations in Gozo, Malta. The island is also fondly referred to as the Isle of Calypso (Ogygia) from Homer’s Odyssey. According to the Greek epic, Odysseus was detained in the island by the nymph Calypso for seven years. Well, with a view like this, I guess everyone would be tempted to stay.

see my other wordless wednesdays
see other wordless wednesday participants

Monday, November 30, 2009

Autumn Before the Festivities

fallen leaves in our backyard

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
- Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

Before the festivities for Christmas and New Year begin, here are a few more photos of autumn - the beautiful transition period between the euphoric spirit of summer and the excitement of the yuletide season.

Autumn sings a lullaby to the beat of crunching leaves under your feet and the soft pitter-patter of rain as it prepares plants and trees for their winter sleep.

It seems so tranquil – with leaves turning from green to yellow then red, then slowly falling to the ground with a passing soft breeze traced with the lingering warmth of summer. But beneath its serene surface is the frenzy of birds, squirrels, hedgehogs and other creatures getting ready to head south or build nests, finding (and storing) enough food to last for the duration of the cold season.

Autumn is a beauty in contrast – as leaves’ color become more intense, the colder the temperature becomes. And when trees are down to their last leaf, they would then be shrouded in winter mist or covered in soft snow.

felix with ears pricked for falling leaves

But not yet… winter is officially 3 weeks away. So while waiting for the next “scene”, let’s enjoy autumn’s charm while it lasts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday : Dewdrops on a Spider Web

dewdrops on a spider web

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.
- Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), Parts of Animals

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.
- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
- Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), "Of Beauty"

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
- Aaron Rose (1969 - )

see my other wordless wednesdays
see other wordless wednesday participants